Q: I have a Holy Thursday question for you.
Right now we are experiencing freezing rain and one of our parishes is currently without power…they have called to ask what to do if the power is not back on by tonight. I would imagine there are building occupancy laws that would state the church could not gather if the power was out – so finding a way to inform parishioners and invite them to attend at a nearby parish.
The pastor asked what he should do – I said he could go to same parish and concelebrate there. He asked “does the Mass have to be celebrated even if no people are present?” He feels Mass without the people would not be permitted.
Along the same lines – if multiple parishes were in the same situation of no power this evening and absolutely had to cancel the Mass what do they do tomorrow for communion?
Thank you for this consideration.
A: I’m very sorry to hear about this situation you are facing right now. It’s horrible under any circumstances for people to be without power and facing the perils of freezing rain.
I think the best is for the parish without power to cancel its Holy Thursday services and urge people and priest to go to another place – if they can get there safely. If the priest cannot do that, he is under no obligation to celebrate mass on Holy Thursday. If he wants to anyway, ideally, he should get one other person to help and follow the Order of Mass with a Single Minister in the missal. He could then consecrate sufficient hosts for Friday. If he cannot find another person for the mass, well, there are plenty of priests (and bishops) who celebrate private mass. Under these circumstances, I’d say he’s free to do so.
If he cannot consecrate hosts for Friday, he could obtain some from another church. Or break into smaller parts the hosts he has on hand. Or explain to people before the service what has happened, and offer what communions he can. He probably should receive communion himself, even though this is not a mass. Good Friday is just a different kind of celebration.
Be assured of my prayers for everyone’s safety.